Hedley’s “Foundation” Years Part I

In 1973 Len and Jean Roberts, founders of the One Way Adventure

Len Roberts at the Colonial Inn
Len Roberts at the Colonial Inn

Foundation, began with a simple booth at the Cloverdale Rodeo.  They offered camping, cycling and canoeing expeditions. A probation officer liked their vision and on behalf of her Surrey office, negotiated a contract with them to operate an extended program for youths on probation.

Soon probation officers were dropping their most recalcitrant adolescent clients off at the Roberts home.  Sometimes it was with the explanation they would be camping, canoeing, or joining a football team. Len had to inform them their PO had actually placed them in a longterm program of rehabilitation. With these often rowdy youths assembling in the Roberts back yard each morning, anxious neighbours spent a lot of time peeking through slits in closed curtains. They were understandably concerned about their personal and property safety.

Desperately needing a larger, more appropriate place as a base, the Roberts purchased  3 acres with a home and small barn in Surrey.  As their reputation for effectiveness increased, probation officers and social workers clamored for more spaces to send youths  out of control in their home, school and community.

Len quickly realized they would have to get some of these hard to manage youths into a more tranquil and secure setting.  The Gold House and Colonial Inn properties on the outskirts of Hedley were derelict and available and he was able to acquire them .

Just prior to the purchase, the inn was seriously vandalized.  At about this time, one of the young vandals was placed in the Foundation’s Surrey program for other unlawful activities.  Not realizing the Foundation had just purchased the property, and wanting to establish a tough guy image, he foolishly boasted to Len about his part in the vandalism. Len immediately sent him to Hedley to help staff with the clean up and repairs.  The building was named the Camp Colonial Lodge

Eventually 4 programs operated out of the Hedley setting.  The youths were assigned to work projects such as fence mending, building trails, cutting grass etc.  In time there were food prep, mechanics, retail and riding courses.  Rigorous back packing and canoeing expeditions, skiing, rock climbing and rappelling were also part of the mix. Most students attended the Foundation school.  Extremely difficult cases were sometimes sent to Upper Camp, part way up the Tram Line.

While Jean ran the office, Len built the organization.  Needing space for programs and storage, he managed over time to buy several buildings, which were for the most part derelict and empty.  Although not charismatic in the usual sense, he was able to explain his vision, purpose and methods in a manner that appealed to individuals eager to devote their lives to a significant purpose.  The work was often arduous and the pay wasn’t great, but workers continued to come and stay. Several youths, after completing their program, were accepted into a one year training course for young workers starting with the organization. Upon completion the Foundation brought them on as staff.


12 thoughts on “Hedley’s “Foundation” Years Part I”

    1. I’m delighted that you visited the blog, Bernard. I remember your cinnamon buns and cream puffs. They were awesome.
      You might be interested in reading “The Poker Game”, which is also about the Foundation experience. I hope to write
      at least one more in the coming months.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Cheryl. Your Nana & Papa participated in an important, life changing work. It required inner strength and a willingness to go the extra mile.

    1. Even at a relatively young age you demonstrated wisdom by continuing to associate with positive people after graduation. I wonder if at that time you were beginning to have a vision of who you could be. You persevered and now you soar. Linda & I are delighted.

  1. My name is edward andrews and i was in the oneway adventure foundation in 1973 for the 18 month program when they were in surrey on the corner of 96th ave and134th street. Did the bowron lakes the rock climbing and the cycle trip from princeton to merit to kamloops salmonarm then back through vernon back to hedly and backpacking in cathedral park in keromeos

    1. Great to hear from you, Edward. I started with the foundation in 1976, so you were there well before my time. If you have read my most recent post concerning the foundation, you will know that the founder, Len Roberts, passed away in late 2016. I hope the organization played a role in putting you on a good path. Art

  2. I remember going up to the old town up on mountian.runnig up and down the old tramway.doig the rope across the river.down into some of the mineshafts

  3. My husband and I worked at One Way with Len and Jean. Great people and so good with the kids. Sorry we didn’t get to see them when we moved back to B.C.

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